Podcast: Conversation with Rachel Nelson

Rachel Nelson: RL Concetti by Detroit Startup Week

After getting her Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Kendall College of Art and Design, Rachel moved from Grand Rapids to the Detroit area. After a variety of gigs as a design consultant and interior designer, she started RL Concetti with her business partner, Lauren DeLaurentiis. Their goal, through design, is to capture the gut feeling you get when you feel something is right.

RL Concetti: www.rlconcetti.com/

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Podcast: Conversation with Stephanie Mckire & Sydney Davis

Stephanie Mckire & Sydney Davis: Hype Digital Innovation by Detroit Startup Week

After leaving her job at Ford Motor Company, Stephanie started Hype Digital Innovations after seeing the need small businesses had for their own mobile app.

Hype Digital Innovation: apps.hypedigitalinnovation.com/

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Podcast: Conversation with Gaurav Mukhi

Gaurav Mukhi: Team Valiant by Detroit Startup Week

Gaurav Mukhi has over a decade of experience in multimedia and marketing. He’s a self-taught digital marketer, and he’s here to help you grow your brand!

Team Valiant: www.valiantvibes.com/

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My #GiveFirst Story: David Bloom

Entrepreneurial education begins with un-learning and demythologizing. Shark Tank is a game show. Silicon Valley is a sitcom. Zuck is an outlier.

One of the hardest entrepreneurial myths to bust is “networking.” Students think it means elevators, pitching, sales. Or worse: that you can network from behind a screen without Getting Out of the Building.

I teach Selfless Networking. You just met somebody new? Shut up and listen. What are their values, their goals, their challenges? Listen, listen, listen.

Then, if you can connect them get the resources they Need to Succeed, just do it. Help the other person. Go out of your way. Expend social capital. Expend actual capital. No quid pro quo.

Through Selfless Networking, you learn how to serve them better, Discover new opportunities, and sharpen your entrepreneurial focus. You can’t do any of these things by pitching, so begin by helping.

In other words, #GiveFirst.

#GiveFirst is the animating principle for Techstars Detroit Startup Week, its hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of participants. When I first encountered this hashtag, its reductive beauty took my breath away. Months of entrepreneurial learning and unlearning packed into two words.

The challenge, of course, is walking the talk. Empathy, generosity, and altruism can seem to run counter to the hyper-capitalism of entrepreneurial mythology. In fact, #GiveFirst accelerates innovation and adoption, which is the whole point.

Set aside Return On (networking) Investment for a moment and just #GiveFirst because it feels good. The intrinsic motivation of helping somebody is your Drive; the extrinsic will follow. The world is full of Givers and Takers and Makers and Fakers. Help them all.


David Bloom

University of Michigan School of Information

Meet Some of Our Awesome Volunteers!

Meet Some of Our Awesome Volunteers!

We sat down with some of our Startup Week volunteers to get their thoughts on the event, why it’s important, and why they are volunteering their time!


-Dejuan Vann-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I’m the Neighborhood Organization Lead. I work passionately to involve neighborhoods in Detroit Startup Week (DSW). Also, I am a Volunteer Lead for Code Detroit where will introduce 5,000 Detroit high school students to coding! 

What is your background and how did it lead you to volunteer for Start-up week? 

I have over 5 years experience in civic engagement, community organizing, small business development and digital marketing. After a brief stint in the financial industry, I married my purpose and re-ignited my passion by launching my very own digital marketing firm named Finish Digital. My combined love of technology and community work led me to launch Finish Digital. These same reasons led me to volunteer for Detroit Startup Week. I love developing communities by connecting them to technology and entrepreneurship. 

What impact do you hope to make by being involved? 

I developed and live by the three Cs. My three Cs are collaboration, connectivity, and communication. These are my personal pillars that keep me focused and grounded. 

Collaboration: I want to make sure DSW collaborates more across Detroit neighborhoods to assure a positive impact for its resident

Connectivity: I am committed to connecting DSW to the Detroit community and connecting residents and businesses to resources. 

Communication: I strive to effectively communicate with residents and the DSW team to assure we are better serving Detroit communities. 

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit? 

This event, like many others, is a part of the fabric that continues to build Detroit’s business and entrepreneurship ecosystem. We’ve come a very long way and it’s important to continue to build, connect Detroit residents to these opportunities, and develop the new generation of Detroit’s finest and best. DSW seeks to do just that! 

Give us one cool fact about you! 

I was a sports radio intern and I’m not the biggest sports fan. But it was a pretty cool experience! 


-Olivia Rae-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I am the Programs Lead for Detroit Startup Week.

Why did you want to volunteer?

I really love the community that I have found and grown with here in Detroit. Having the opportunity to help others get involved, learn, build, and grow is such a gift. 

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit?

In order to have transformative impact that scales, we need to come together as a community to learn together. A huge part of why I love Detroit is that you ask people what they do and what’s their hustle, and oftentimes those are completely separate things that together make them who they are. Coming together for a week to share that and grow that is how Detroit moves forward and builds. 

What impact do you hope to make by being involved?

I hope the impact that I have is making it easy for people to connect and get the information that they are seeking. It’s important that people feel included and in thinking about programming, how we write descriptions and where we place events is a huge part of that.

How has this experience changed your perspective on the importance of teamwork and the impact you can make?

Detroit Startup week is volunteer led and run and without this incredibly vibrant, active community, we wouldn’t be able to put this on. I’m constantly impressed with how many people are involved, how they are involved, and the overall commitment to growing our entrepreneurs. This is such a team effort and I am confident that no one person could have this impact alone. I feel blessed to be a part of it and am excited to see what comes from this incredible week.


-Leann Abad-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I help out wherever is needed and wherever I see myself able to provide value. It’s what I call a “Flex Player” role. I’ve closed and won sponsorships, I produce the Startup Week podcast, I help with the Ann Arbor <> Detroit engagement team, and other things.

Why did you want to volunteer?

I’m a community builder, and Detroit Startup Week is a really dope community.

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit?

I think we need a concentrated focus on how we can leverage the tech industry from a holistic perspective. Detroit is such a complex city with an equally complex variety of communities, that with the ever-so-present “disparity” between downtown/midtown and the neighborhoods, we need to actively pursue and create bonds between all of Detroit. Where we fall behind is when we focus on “either/or” rather than “and.” Meaning, we need platforms that put just as much focus into the blockchain community as it does the small business and retail community. Detroit Startup Week is one of those platforms.

What impact do you hope to make by being involved?

I hope to bring value to the business community of Detroit. 

How has this experience changed your perspective on the importance of teamwork and the impact you can make?

Teamwork really does make the dream work. Everyone brings something different to the table, and it really shines in certain situations. For example, when we put out an ask of the team and several people respond immediately with solutions, that’s magic.  


-Adam Zientarski-

What is your role with Detroit Startup Week? 

I’m a sponsorship co-lead!

Why did you want to volunteer?

I wanted to volunteer so I could finally give back to the city I’ve called home for 3 years and support fellow entrepreneurs.

Why do you think that this event is important, particularly for Detroit?

Detroit Startup week is an important event for Detroit because Detroit doesn’t have the established and industry diverse business community that other cities like New York, Chicago, etc. We need events like DSW to continue to attract talent to the city, encourage residents becoming entrepreneurs, and show the supportive community they will join once doing so.

What impact do you hope to make by being involved?

I’m hoping that I can raise a ton of money and gather enough resources to support plentiful and high quality programming and events during the week.

How has this experience changed your perspective on the importance of teamwork and the impact you can make?

The experience changed my perspective on how old and new Detroit can work together, and how the communities can find common ground on what’s important to the entire city.



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Meet Three Local Entrepreneurs Making A Positive Impact In Detroit 

We’re counting down the days… we’re so excited for Detroit Startup Week to kickoff!

Of course, we could not get ready for Detroit Startup Week without meeting some of our local entrepreneurs!

This week, we are highlighting three Millennials who are not only making a significant impact in the city of Detroit but also bringing hope and positivity to others! One is creating benches to support local neighborhoods, another is co-working spaces and event series to help entrepreneurs thrive, and lastly, one is creating a medical device that will communicate with 911 dispatchers during food allergy emergencies.

We applaud them for the tremendous impact that they are generating, making Detroit known across the nation for its entrepreneurial spirit!

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Podcast: Conversation with Jevona Watson

Jevona Watson: Detroit Sip by Detroit Startup Week

Detroit Sip is a coffee shop and community magnet for the University District in Detroit. Jevona started it because during her undergrad and law degree from Michigan State University, she felt the positive impact coffee shops had on her college experience and wanted to provide that same experience to the students at U of D-Mercy and Marygrove College. They’re located at 7420 W. McNichols, Detroit, MI, so please feel free to check them out.

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10 Reasons to Partner with Startup Week 2018

Techstars Startup Week Detroit, powered by Chase for Business, is back this June 2018! We expect it’s going to be the best year yet. For our third year we’re expecting 10,000 attendees from all over the region coming down to Detroit to experience and participate in our thriving startup community.

Want to get involved? We’re still accepting partners. First, let us share with you how sponsoring or partnering with us works. Here are 10 Reasons Why You Should Partner with Startup Week in Detroit.

  1. It’s THE BIGGEST Entrepreneurship event of the year in Michigan.What started three years ago, has grown into the largest conference in Detroit for entrepreneurship. In the past two years alone we reached 95.5 million people through media, saw over 9,600 attendees, hosted speakers including Jamie Dimon of Chase, Bill Ford Jr of Ford, Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, and many more. This year we expect 10,000 attendees, national keynote speakers, and visitors from around the country to attend.
  1. Our vision is inclusive and accessible to all.We are a platform that is accessible for all. The entire week of programs, events, and speakers are free so that anyone can participate. We aim to build a platform for others to launch from. We hope to see attendees find their partner or co-founder, launch their company, get visibility, get inspired or find an investor. There’s no profit for us — it’s all re-invested through free programming. Startup Week is one of the only platforms that is truly accessible, free, and all about the community.
  1. Our execution is Community Driven & Volunteer Led.Even though Startup Week in Detroit is growing fast, we are not straying from our focus on the community. All of our programs are community driven and volunteer led. If you’re a leader in a neighborhood, we empower you to get your community involved.
  1.  We don’t just want your money, we want a partnership.It’s not just about sponsor dollars, we’re open to partners who add value to Detroit’s community. Partnering can take many forms, like our friends at Google teaching small businesses in Detroit neighborhoods how to get online for free during Startup Week. We’re excited for our sponsor Quicken Loans to donate shuttle busses this year bringing in underserved communities to Downtown Detroit for the week. Have an idea on how to help? We’re open to it.
  1. You don’t have to be a paying sponsor to make an impact.Sponsorship is important to us of course, because that is what makes this all possible. But just as important are the companies and professionals who share their wisdom and experience with entrepreneurs through learning tracks. If you have expertise to share, submit a program application (below)! Deadline April 30.
  1. Your investment goes directly to Detroit entrepreneurs.We have 100s of volunteers giving their time to see this event’s success, meaning we have low operation costs. All of the sponsorships we raise go to the big event that week.
  1. Our tracks are diverse and interesting to all.  With dozens of learning opportunities for the week, we’re able to engage attendees around a diverse variety of topics including food, tech, makers, art, and so much more. This draws a larger audience and makes sure there is something from everyone. You can also support a track or key events in a track to reach a more targeted audience.
  1. Bring your vision to us, we will align it to the week.It might seem like there’s so much going on, how can you fit in? Bring to us your vision and we can align it. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield has shared with us their vision for their brand innovating in the medical space. We want to align them with our med tech track to inspire and engage others around their brand. We will spend time to make sure they are appropriately aligned. Sponsors love us because we take the time to align their vision and care about this.
  1. In the end it’s all about the people.We are focused on the relationships we build with our sponsors and partners, and with entrepreneurs and hopefuls. From corporate sponsors and investors to tech startups and neighborhood businesses, we bring people together. That’s what makes us feel we’ve served our purpose.

10.Startup Week supports entrepreneurs AND grows the economy. Through Startup Week in Detroit we help businesses gain the investments they need to fuel success, earn increased revenue through improved business practices, and attract more talent to the Detroit area. When we help an entrepreneur succeed, we all benefit. A high tide raises all ships!

Are you ready yet? Get involved now:

Click here to become a sponsor

Click here for a shareable event snapshot

With gratitude,

Kyle Bazzy and Monica Wheat

Techstars Startup Week Detroit Co-Leads